A city worker at the scene was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6 pm Monday, Police Chief William McManus said. Officers arrived to find a body on the ground outside the trailer and a partially opened gate to the trailer, he said. At least 46 undocumented migrants were found dead in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas and more than a dozen were hospitalized, authorities said.
Forty-six people were found dead and 16 others were taken to hospitals after a tractor-trailer rig containing suspected migrants was found Monday on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio, officials said.
The bodies of at least 46 people believed to be migrants who crossed into the United States from Mexico were in a tractor-trailer that had been abandoned on the outskirts of San Antonio, state and city officials said.
At least 16 others, including children, were taken to local hospitals alive but suffering from heat exhaustion and apparent dehydration, city officials said during a news conference at the scene of what appeared to be one of the worst episodes of migrant death in the United States in recent years. It is not clear how the people died but towns across Texas have experienced a heatwave throughout June with temperatures rising above 39 degrees.
Local media reported the truck was involved in a suspected human smuggling incident. San Antonio is about 240km from the border with Mexico. Three people have been taken into custody. The survivors were all suffering heat-related injuries. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed two of the survivors were from Guatemala. Ebrard also said the truck had EU number plates designed to circulate without inspection.
It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades. San Antonio’s Police Chief said it is the largest death toll he can recall in the city’s history. Big trucks emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in US border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings. Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border.
As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the US, migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more. Heat also poses a serious danger, particularly when temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles.